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Subject: Player Rewards Vs Run Away Victories rss

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Willem-Jan Rensink
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Solutions
First of all, the 'off' side of Systems may contain negative abilities. In that case, when your opponent steals one of your Systems, your gain (a little bit) advantage.
Another solution is to loose a System card when dealing damage to an opponent: first player to run out of System cards wins. This might increase multiplayer playability, for there is no longer any player elimination, but might need another thematic approach.

Alternative win conditions, instead of hitpoints or milling your deck, is hand size. When your hand size becomes 0, your lose. This would give a lot of restrictions, because your hand size can't be affected by cards like in magic.
Another way to use your hand size, is to have your win when your opponent has a hand size of 10, thereby giving the losing player more choice, and therefor an advantage.
Both handsize mechanic don't really seem to work well in your game, but might give inspiration for another idea.

Hope I could help
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Brook Gentlestream
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Long Beach
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Requiring activation of abilities may also be an option. Instead of adding automatic benefits, it simply adds options and may stretch your resources thin.

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Willem-Jan Rensink
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Milling
If you go with the milling idea, there is an important thing to consider: you add quite some luck to the game. Players will say they lost to bad luck. A way to minimize this, is to mill the cards face-down. This way players won't know what they've lost, and will always have a little bit of hope left.
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One Armed Bandit
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As stated, having the "Off" boosts be activated abilities instead of passive bonuses can make a difference.

Passive bonuses make the strong even stronger, whereas activated abilities make the strong more versatile, rather than outright stronger.

Like giving access to a special action that's not normally available. It doesn't give you more, but lets you do something neat that can be awesome (or lame, depending on your strategy). Or it can be an upgraded action (Normally you can go ACTION: Produce 2 copper, but conquering a system gives you ACTION: Produce 1 silver, saving you the need to build a Silver Mine or whatever)

Alternately, to avoid early runaways...
Have a foxed set of "starter systems" which have an ON benefit, but their OFF side is blank. There's the simple mechanical advantage of having denied a resource, but not an inherent boost on top of that.
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